A man named Lars (Ethan Hawke) wearing his black leather jacket with the Texas flag on the back, a fuzzy mustache, and a cowboy hat to hide an awful wig, enters the Kreditbanke with his guns firing away. Instead of robbing the bank, he takes hostage a few employees, devoting his focus on teller Bianca Lind (Noomi Rapace), telling the police he wants good friend Gunnar Sorensson (Mark Strong) released from prison. Police chief Mattsson (Christopher Heyerdahl) does what Lars requests, but now the two criminals want to walk out of the bank free with the hostages. What seemed like an interesting plan, molds into a standoff of wits, with the chief looking for a way to end this, with Lars and Gunnar playing it out by the minute. What was not expected, was the connection Lars would find with Bianca, turning the tables, where the kidnappers become more respected than those trying to save the hostages.
For Budreau, his best choice was casting Hawke again, this time playing a character that is a loose cannon. There is a sweaty, intense energy in the First Reformed star, something that not many actors bring to every role. In the hands of any other actor, the bouncing between manic criminal, and a sensitive man, would feel bipolar. For Hawke, it works entirely natural. The screenplay by Budreau also saves the best dialogue for Rapace. The Prometheus actor channels her best work in some time, proving over and over again that when the script allows her to be vulnerable, she's at the top of the profession. Especially since a bank robbery is an intense, frightening situation, which is why we have to believe that Rapace's character could fall for a person holding her against her will, and thankfully we do.
The second and third acts revolve around Lars doing his best efforts to convince the police that he means business, even going to lengths of shooting Bianca in the back with a bullet proof vest on, just to convince authorities that he's crazy enough to kill. It is a scene so ludicrous it has to be true and adds a more twisted inclination that Bianca became trusting of her life to a man without a plan. It unfolds moment to moment, in close quarters, similar to what Sidney Lumet did in Dog Day Afternoon, only this time it is Hawke shouting obscenities at the police, who are trying to grab a hold of the situation.
On a surface level, Stockholm will entertain anyone looking for a solid thrill and even a good laugh at the sheer insanity of the situation. Budreau seems to miss out on drawing more action out of the event and I found the ending a bit too abrupt, but the performances from Hawke and Rapace are so good, it's no wonder that they are two of my favorites in the business today. Go see Stockholm, but don't get too attached. Kidnappers are not our friends.
Written by: Leo Brady
STARRING: ETHAN HAWKE; NOOMI RAPACE; MARK STRONG
DIRECTED BY: ROBERT BUDREAU
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
As Robert Budreau did in his second film, Born to be Blue, he takes an approach to a genre style and does his best to remove the tropes that came before. In Born to be Blue's regard, it was the biopic of jazz legend Chet Baker, a movie that does not really tell Baker's story, but let's us watch him at arms length. This same approach is in his newest work, Stockholm, which is sorta, loosely based, on the kidnapping scenario which helped coin the term “Stockholm Syndrome”. This is not your typical bank robbery film, in fact there is nothing robbed at all. It is more a movie about three parties, the misguided criminal, the police chief that is desperate to save the day, and the hostage caught in the middle. Stockholm is an intentionally messy, engaging action, with notes of dark humor, and a top tier cast that drives it home. To sum it up, Stockholm is a captivating drama.